3D printing and scanning have been making big impacts on the consumer market in the last few years, opening up new possibilities for consumers armed with 3D drafting tools that were only available to professional services just a few decades ago. With the introduction of The Sprout, HP’s new 3D scanning-enabled computer, home 3D replication capabilities have taken another dramatic leap forward.
HP is billing The Sprout as “the world’s first immersive computer,” and, in at least one sense, it delivers on that promise – The Sprout allows users to capture and manipulate 3D content on a consumer-grade machine. Combining Intel’s Real Sense 3D cameras and HP’s 3D Capture Stage and other proprietary 3D design software, The Sprout enables users to not only scan in 3D images, but to also manipulate, share, and print them. In other words, The Sprout is the world’s first consumer computer that gives regular users the ability to easily and affordably create their own 3D content, from design, all the way through manufacturing.
The Sprout, which launched in 2014, is part of what HP is referring to as its “blended reality” strategy, of which The Sprout is the “onramp.” According to Eric Monsef, vice president of HP’s Highly Immersive Systems division, The Sprout is to be the building block for the company’s future line of immersive technologies and 3D application tools.
How Does It Work?
The Sprout’s 3D capture technology works by utilizing the 3D Capture Stage accessory, which acts as a platform for the objects to be scanned. When the user turns on the 3D Capture app, the 3D Capture Stage turntable begins to rotate and tilt, making sure that every detail of the object is captured by the scanners. Once the image has been taken, the user can manipulate the digital model that has been created on their computer, creating their own modified 3D images.
Once the images have been uploaded to a user’s computer, they can be shared via e-mail, social media, and other information sharing channels, or printed with a 3D printer. While The Sprout does not come with its own companion 3D printer, HP is working on that as well; the company has partnered with Dremel, creator of the Dremel 3D Idea Builder printer, to create a scan-to-print solution that it can eventually market to its customers.
HP has announced that it will be offering 3D Capture as a free upgrade to its current 3D Snapshot software; the old program was only able to capture one side of an object for 3D modeling.
The Growing World of 3D Scanning
The Sprout comes at a fortuitous time in the 3D scanning industry. According to a report by research firm MarketsandMarkets, the 3D scanning market will reach $4.08 million in 2018, driven by increased adoption of computer aided design and 3D printing on the professional and consumer levels.
As CAD programs and 3D replication software become more affordable and easier to use, they are likely to become even more popular with the general market. While The Sprout is the first computer of its kind available to average consumers, it certainly won’t be the last. HP is already planning to create more machines of this kind, and its competitors are sure to follow suit. In other words, The Sprout represents yet another step forward in the increasing acceptance and ubiquity of CAD tools as not just a specialist’s tool, but an item for everyday users.